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WEDNESDAY, Feb. 3, 2021 (HealthDay News) — More than four in 10 U.S. adults report forgoing medical care early in the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published online Jan. 21 in JAMA Network Open.

Kelly E. Anderson, from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues used data from 1,337 participants in the second wave of the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Civic Life and Public Health Survey (July 7 to July 22, 2020) to estimate the frequency of and reasons for reported forgone medical care at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic (March to mid-July 2020).

The researchers found that 41 percent of respondents did not seek medical care during the study period. Of the 1,055 individuals who reported needing care, 52 percent reported forgoing care for any reason, 29 percent forwent care due to fear of COVID-19 transmission, and 7 percent forwent care due to financial concerns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Compared with employed respondents, those who were unemployed forwent care more often (50 versus 65 percent) and were more likely to attribute forgoing care to fear of COVID-19 transmission and financial concerns. Compared with respondents with Medicare or commercial coverage, respondents lacking health insurance were more likely to attribute forgone care to financial concerns (4 versus 22 percent).

“Policies to improve health care affordability and to reassure individuals that they can safely seek care may be necessary with surging COVID-19 case rates,” the authors write.

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